It wasn't long ago that the chance of a bald eagle sighting in Northeast Pennsylvania was pretty remote.

Now, wildlife experts say there are about 200 pairs of nesting bald eagles in the region, mostly along the Delaware and Susquehanna rivers. It's not uncommon to spot them right here in Bradford County.

The comeback is no accident. It is the result of environmental regulation, advocacy and action that vastly has improved the eagles' habitat.

It also demonstrates that the Endangered Species Act works. Because of it and its predecessor laws, the bald eagle was protected from human predation and habitat destruction for 40 years as scientists worked to restore the population. Over the same period, the Clean Water Act significantly reduced poisons in waterways that had helped to drive down the eagle population.

Today the ESA lists about 2,000 species as endangered, about 1,390 of which include parts of the United States in their range.

The law sometimes is controversial when it conflicts with development. But those controversies point to the degree to which natural habitat is stressed, and to the need for the sort of protection that has made the bald eagle an awe-inspiring, yet increasingly common sight.